Though Erdogan has never made a secret of his desire to redraw Syria’s map of Kurds and Arabs via his Turkish military incursion in northern Syria, and in the months prior to his ordering the operation even made statements tantamount to an open policy of ethnic cleansing, it was surprising how easily the White House gave the green light a month ago despite Ankara’s stated aims.
But now a leaked internal US government memo published by The New York Times spells it out clearly, and underscores the fact that everyone in Washington knows NATO’s second largest military is now engaged in ongoing ethnic cleansing. The internal State Department memo states bluntly the Turks are conducting “an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing”.
It was authored by William Roebuck, Americas top diplomat in northern Syria, who for years previously served as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Syria. He was also recently the US Ambassador to Bahrain.
The most shocking line among its 3200 total words are as follows:
“Turkey’s military operation in northern Syria, spearheaded by armed Islamist groups on its payroll, represents an intentioned-laced effort at ethnic cleansing.”
The memo further describes Turkey’s Islamist ground proxies in the so-called ‘Syrian National Army’ (or formerly FSA) as carrying out horrific human rights violations and summary executions of Kurdish fighters and civilians, calling the abuses “what can only be described as war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”
Roebuck’s internally circulated memo, later leaked to the press, is considered the first broad dissent memo decrying President Trump’s policy to dump the Kurds by withdrawing from the border areas.
The memo urged greater US action in pushing back against invading Turkish forces: “we have a chance to minimize the damage for us and hopefully correct some of the impact of Turkey’s current policies, as we seek to implement the president’s guidance for our presence in northeastern Syria,” it said. Roebuck also called America’s current policy in Syria “a catastrophic sideshow”.
“One day when the diplomatic history is written,” he said, “people will wonder what happened here and why officials didn’t do more to stop it or at least speak out more forcefully to blame Turkey for its behavior…” in reference to Ankara’s ethnic cleansing campaign which has brought Syrian Kurds and Christians in its cross hairs.
“President Trump has been clear and consistent about wanting to get our forces out of Syria,” Roebuck concluded. “The residual presence to protect the oil and fight ISIS buys us some time,” he noted.
Meanwhile, despite intense strain in US-Turkey ties over the past months, also related to Ankara’s S-400 purchase from Russia and the stalled F-35 program, both the Trump administration and Erdogan’s office have confirmed the Turkish president’s Nov. 13 visit to the White House will happen as scheduled.